It's no secret: I'm a fan of the first Fullmetal Alchemist series. It's how I was introduced to the world of FMA to begin with. It's one of my favorite anime of all time. I even feel like it handled some of the manga's material better than the manga did. However, in the case of Alphonse's existential crisis, the manga, and this episode, handled it more naturally, with subtlety. The first series gave us a largely filler episode involving Scar and two Ishbalan children, which wasn't bad, but wasn't great, and certainly didn't handle it as well as this episode did. Yes, I'm saying that Brotherhood, in this case, is superior to the first series.
Still, not one of the highlight portions of the story, since it's hard to believe Alphonse would even believe Barry for this long to begin with. I mean, really, what about photographs? Surely Alphonse has seen photographs of himself as a small child at the Rockbell house. Those couldn't have been faked, at least not with the lack of technology that the world of FMA has. That Alphonse went so long having to rethink the validity of his existence? Well, at least they wrapped up that in one episode.
The episode covers most of Chapter 13, all of Chapter 14, and some of Chapter 15, but despite all the different conversations, covered it fairly seemlessly. I can't off the top of my head think of anything they left out. I hope this leaves plenty of room for the material in the rest of Chapter 15, though from the next episode preview, it looks like they're going to add some scenes of the Ishbal massacre from chapter 61. In fact, it could be my favorite scene of that chapter.
The star of this episode was Rie Kugimiya. I mean, I always thought that she and Romi Paku were perfect as they were in their roles. Even I was surprised at how great Kugimiya's performance was. I can't say the same for the new voice of Maria Ross, who is just too soft. I'm still adjusting to Winry's new voice actress. I think she's starting to sound a little more like the previous one, actually.
I think some of the comedy faces and reactions are getting a little tiresome, though. I appreciate that they add some of the humor of the manga into the show, and certainly the first series did so, but this episode went a little too far. The only time it seemed appropriate was at Elicia's birthday party. (Though it reminds me that in the first series, Ed and Al helped deliver her as a baby, and it was on Ed's birthday, so Ed and Elicia shared a birthday.) I did, however, like the little part where the boy in the hospital is playing with a toy robot. It reflected Al's thoughts entirely. Also, the little cameo of Izumi and Sig Curtis at the beginning made me smile, too.
Something has to be done about the awful music in this series. There are a few good tracks, like when Hughes talked to Winry, but a lot of the rest is just terrible.The scene on the rooftop was almost ruined by it. I mean, fuck, that same Italian restaurant music? The vocal version would have been preferable there. It seems to be this show's stand-in for Oshima's "Brothers". Of course, it's not nearly as good.
Also, the man who says "FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST!" at the eyecatch has to go. I don't care how it's done, just do it. If he ruins the mood of the next episode with his shitty voice, I'm dropping this show. Okay, I probably won't, but I'll rage like never before.
Decent episode, handled the Alphonse "fake memory" thing better than the first show. Next episode is far more pivotal, though.